Bill Gates took to Reddit this week for his 11th Ask Me Anything (AMA), and during the session, he answered questions about climate change, the ethics of being extremely wealthy, and some of the conspiracy theories revolving around him. Answered. business practices.
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Here are some of the highlights:
On his agricultural land acquisition and billionaire wealth:
I own less than 1/4000 of the farm land in the US, I have invested in these farms to make them more productive and create more jobs. There’s no major planning involved – in fact, all of these decisions are made by a professional investment team.
In terms of the very rich, I think they should pay a lot more in taxes and give away their wealth over time. It has been very satisfying for me and it is my full time job.
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On how to make an economy beneficial to the masses:
I’m surprised taxes haven’t been increased more. For example, capital gains rates may be the same as ordinary income rates. I know things are difficult for many people.
It is important to note that life is hard in poor countries right now. There are parts of the world where more than 10% of children die before the age of 5 and more than 30% are malnourished so their brains and bodies do not develop fully.
Climate will slow the progress we make in improving the human condition, but I still believe we can avoid a dire outcome. The pace of innovation is indeed picking up, even though we will not make the current timelines or avoid going beyond 1.5.
On whether or not a billionaire can be “ethical”:
Being rich can easily put you out of touch. I think the incentive to create new companies is still a good thing. Even if taxes go up, I still wouldn’t ban someone from being worth a billion, but that’s just an opinion. I’ve been very lucky.
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On his focus on healthcare and vaccines:
When I saw children dying that could be saved for less than $1000 per life, I knew it had to be a top priority for me to give back. There was almost no funding work on diseases such as malaria, which was killing more than a million children at the time. We have made progress but it is still 400k and we are determined to bring it down to zero eventually.
On her favorite movie and TV show from the past year:
“White Lotus” season 2 was pretty good if I may say so myself. Congratulations to Jennifer Coolidge on her Golden Globe. The Bernie Madoff Special was good too. Tehran was in suspense. The latest avatar was good. My favorite entertainment experience recently was the Chris Rock/Dave Chappelle event.
On his longtime friendship with fellow bridge player Warren Buffett and his relationship with Berkshire Hathaway.
I had dinner with Warren on Sunday and he is doing well at age 93! He’s incredibly intelligent. I’m no longer on the board of Berkshire, but he still shares a lot of advice with me and his generosity to all foundations, the Gates Foundation included, is incredible.
We still play some bridge but not as much as we used to. He hooks me up with bridge, and I play with some of his friends, including a few tournaments.
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On his favorite band:
My favorite bands include U2 – I love Bono’s recent book, and he’s a good friend.